As a young man, out with the raucous crowd of youth,
he’d followed their lead.
Made with the dirty giggles,
the snide remarks, the invented names, the donkey grins
whenever they came upon
the white-haired, the bent, the shambling, the cane-walkers.
Sheep that he was, he had followed and fit in.
Some returned the glances
from under salt & pepper brows.
May be the colour had washed some from their irises,
but they burned all the more brightly.
All the more knowingly.
A disturbing bane for the schooled bully.
The months of his donkey following
gave way to uncertainty,
and then to a budding courage
that was not the courage of the crowd.
Still a young man,
the stabbings of life made their wounds to him
Loss, pain, emptiness, the hollowness of yearning.
And now, on this late day, his old leg does not work very well.
He grabs a fallen branch from the yard,
whittles it down a bit,
cuts it to just the right length for a prop,
and shambles uptown for a much needed haircut.
He has this peculiar feeling.
A kind of swelling, more like a welling.
A burgeoning anticipation.
There will, after all, be something more.
In his slow progress up the sidewalk,
he meets with counterparts out of his youth.
Cocks his head a little, gives them a glance,
and they pass by with tremulous laughter.
The barber asks what’ll it be today?
He says neaten up the curls, trim the beard,
and (with a sly grin)
skip the eyebrows.